More disappointment for Red Bulls's optimistic Ricciardo
Sepang: Disqualified in Australia and dumped with a 10-place grid penalty after Malaysia, even the eternally optimistic Daniel Ricciardo was struggling to stay positive after a testing start to his Red Bull career.
Two weeks ago, the Australian was celebrating a second place finish in Melbourne only for his car to fall foul of fuel flow rate regulations that led to the FIA taking away that first Formula One podium.
Once again the fuel sensor proved problematic in Sepang, but it was a calamitous pit stop and a punctured tyre that proved his undoing.
In fourth place as he came in for his third and final stop, Ricciardo drove away only to realise his front left wheel was not fully attached with engineers sprinting down the pitlane to push him back and fix the issue.
The incident resulted in a 10 second stop-go penalty, before he eventually retired from the Malaysian race, while stewards also slapped him with a 10 place grid penalty for next weekend in Bahrain.
"Deep down I`m really disappointed but at the same time there`s a little bit in me which is happy because I think I`ve come out how I wanted to," Ricciardo said in assessing his season so far.
"I still want to improve but we`ve started off on the right foot. So for that I`m pleased. I know a little bit of luck will turn around soon and I`ll get my revenge and get some points."
An appeal rather than a change of fortune could bring points if a confident Red Bull are successful in contesting the Albert Park fuel decision in a Paris hearing on April 14.
But even if the appeal fails, his displays in Melbourne and again in Malaysia on Sunday, where he overtook his quadruple world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel early on, showed he is sure to feature on podiums before the 2014 season is out.
While Lewis Hamilton won the race for Mercedes, Ricciardo had muscled his way past Vettel and into third place on the opening lap.
"A lot of people probably don`t expect it because I`m always the happy guy and smiling and they think I`m too nice for that. But I`m here to race and I love racing up the front," said the former Toro Rosso driver who has replaced departed compatriot Mark Webber at Red Bull.
"It`s been a privilege but a lot of fun the last couple of rounds to do it. It`s a bit addictive. You`ll see me up there plenty of times this year."
He will, however, need his luck to change.
After the comical pit stop he damaged his front wing and punctured a tyre before the Red Bull engineers told him to call it a day in order to preserve the engine for battles ahead.
"It was looking like we could have a solid points finish and the race was going pretty well, the start was really good and I made up a couple of positions and I was starting to mix it up at the front which is nice," Ricciardo added.
"But then the last pitstop we had the issue and then we had a puncture, a front wing failure and a few other things went on and then the stop go.
"So the race ended pretty quickly for us. From looking good to looking pretty bad in a short matter of time."
Red Bull were also reprimanded for a member of their team not wearing the required protective head gear during the ill fated stop, but team principal Christian Horner was trying to focus on the positive performance of his new recruit.
"Daniel was fantastic today," he told reporters.
"Everything we have seen of Daniel has been enormously impressive and the way he handles adversity, the way he handled today, it didn`t go his way, he gets out of the car and has a smile on his face and he knows it will come right."